Romance on the sea

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iol travel aug 8 phuket INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Phuket paradise: the view over Karon Beach on the island paradise of Phuket proves the place is back up and ready, and waiting for tourists.

Bangkok - On the exquisite turquoise waters of Phuket is where the most spectacular sites for paddlers can be found. One of the most popular bays in Thailand, Phang Nga Bay, basks in the beauty of breathtaking coastlines and sheer limestone karsts, making kayaking one of the most romantic activities to do in Thailand.

The most natural splendours for paddlers can be found in “Phang Nga Bay. The bay is filled with karsts, caves, tunnels and interior lagoons – known locally as ‘hongs”, says Thamanoon Kuprasert, general manager of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa for Thai Airways International.

A distinctive feature of Phang Nga Bay is the sheer limestone karsts that jut out vertically from the sea. These collapsed caverns have eroded from natural forces over millions of years.

The ‘hongs’ can only be accessed by sea canoe or kayak, and only when the tide is just right. Even then it makes for a tight squeeze and at times the experienced, licensed tour guides strategically let out air from the kayaks to ensure a smooth squeeze-through.

But once you have made it through, the magical splendour of the hidden natural beauty on the other side is breathtaking. Silence really is golden as tourists are left awed by the natural wonders and wildlife inside the karsts.

“There are dozens of ‘hongs’ found in around the differing islands, each with its own unique characteristics and special features allowing you to kayak all day visiting one island after the other,” adds Kuprasert.

The two most famous bays in Phang Nga are James Bond Island and Koh Panyee.

Koh Panyee is about 20 minutes by long-tail boat from Surakul pier in Phang Nga province and encompasses a floating village made up of locals who enjoy the magical beauty of their ‘back yard’.

James Bond Island has been made famous from the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun filmed in 1974, and thousands of tourists flock to the island year-on-year to get the must have famous photograph.

The island is filled with secret lagoons and passageways that open into beautiful caves. There is also a local market on the island which allows tourists to grab a quick souvenir before jetting off to other islands.

There is no better way to tour the islands than by sea canoe. It is undoubtedly one of the most romantic excursions a couple can embark on. The quiet serenity and natural beauty of Phukets limestone karsts, unique wildlife and gorgeous waters will leave one in complete admiration.

“With such history and natural beauty that can be found on the sea of Phuket, tourists would be silly not to add this to their bucket list,” concludes Kuprasert.

Thai Airways travellers can purchase an air ticket for travelling to Thailand and Asia Pacific destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, China, Indo-China, Australia & New Zealand until March 31, 2013 with Thailand & Asia Pacific Delight Promotion.

For more information, visit www.thaiair.co.za or phone (011) 268 2580.

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